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  • Affirmation: United Methodists
    Binghamton pastor takes church-defying stand in support of same-sex marriage Binghamton minister officiates at same-sex ceremonies 10:52 PM, Jul 31, 2013 |
    Message 1 of 15 , Aug 4, 2013

      Binghamton pastor takes church-defying stand in support of same-sex marriage

      Binghamton minister officiates at same-sex ceremonies

      10:52 PM, Jul 31, 2013   |  
      Written by
      William Moyer

      BINGHAMTON — The pastor of Tabernacle United Methodist Church in Binghamton faces the loss of his ministerial credentials after officiating at same-sex marriage ceremonies, which is contrary to the denominational policy.


      After the Rev. Stephen Heiss wrote to parishioners in June about officiating at several ceremonies since New York legalized same-sex marriage two years ago, he got a letter from the denomination’s regional bishop, saying another clergy had charged him with violating church law.



    • Affirmation: United Methodists
      Binghamton church stands behind pastor fighting for marriage equality By: Candace Hopkins A Binghamton pastor could lose his job, after admitting to United
      Message 2 of 15 , Aug 18, 2013

        Binghamton church stands behind pastor fighting for marriage equality

        By: Candace Hopkins


        A Binghamton pastor could lose his job, after admitting to United Methodist Church officials that he has been performing same-sex marriage ceremonies since New York State legalized them. Our Candace Hopkins spoke with church members, who are standing firmly behind Pastor Stephen Heiss, no matter what happens.




        Binghamton pastor and bishop to take 90 days to resolve difference over same-sex ceremonies

        9:54 PM, Aug 1, 2013   |  
        Written by
        William Moyer


        A local pastor and his regional bishop will take 90 days to seek reconciliation in a difference over officiating at same-sex marriage ceremonies.


        Rev. Stephen Heiss, pastor of Tabernacle United Methodist Church in Binghamton, and Bishop Mark Webb, of the Upper New York Conference, met Thursday for almost two hours in Syracuse to discuss a formal charge that Heiss violated church policy by officiating at same-sex marriage ceremonies.




        Regional conferences take on social issues


        During annual (regional) conferences meetings in the U.S. this summer, United Methodists tackled hot-button topics including homosexuality, gun violence, divestment and immigration reform.





        Pastor Facing Charges Reflects on Meeting with Bishop

        by Rev. Steve Heiss

        August 8, 2013

        This is a follow-up reflection following a letter that the letter Rev. Steve Heiss wrote to his Bishop explaining why he has officiating the same-sex wedding of his daughter and others. Following that letter a complaint was filed by a fellow clergy colleague.


        My time with Bishop Mark Webb (bishop of the Upper New York Conference) and the Rev. Richard Barton, (who filed the complaint against me).


        The Bishop's office is located in the top story of University United Methodist Church in Syracuse. As I climb stairs with Penny (chair of our staff-parish relations committee, now my advocate), I wonder how many steps there were in the tower of London. Finally, the summit is reached, the door to the bishop’s office is before us. We enter. 



        Response to a Bishop: More than Welcome Needed for LGBT People

        by The Rev. Jeanne Audrey Powers

        August 8, 2013


        Bishop Ken Carter of the Florida Annual Conference recently made a statement at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church near Orlando where they are intentionally welcoming and affirming LGBT people. After many years of either silence or painful words about persons like myself by church leadership in Florida, I’m heartened to hear Bishop Carter’s words advocating welcome and inclusion of gay and lesbian people in Florida UM churches.


        Bishop Carter has inserted himself into the conversation not because he was required to make a ruling or respond to a trial, but because he wanted to be Bishop of the entire church—including those gay and lesbian people who continue to be marginalized. For that, I am thankful. While I am pleased that Bishop Carter may be signaling beginning steps for greater love and welcome of LGBT people in the state of Florida, I hope he understands that The United Methodist Church already does belong to LGBT persons and that they need no “permission” to be fully involved in the life of the church. There is still much to be done to address homophobia and heterosexism in Florida.




        August 9, 2013 10:40AM

        Columnist Applauds Russia's Homophobic Law

        Post by Candace Chellew-Hodge


        The next time an anti-gay religious person tells you they really love homosexuals and wish them no ill will, bookmark this article and read it over and over again so you will never forget their true agenda: elimination of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.



      • Affirmation: United Methodists
        Hilldale UMC in Clarksville hosting Back to School Bully Bustin Bash Aug. 16, 2013 | Written by Tim Parrish For The Leaf-Chronicle Back to School Bully
        Message 3 of 15 , Sep 5, 2013

          Hilldale UMC in Clarksville hosting 'Back to School Bully Bustin' Bash'

          Aug. 16, 2013   |  
          Written by
          Tim Parrish
          For The Leaf-Chronicle

          Back to School Bully Bustin’ Bash

          CLARKSVILLE, TENN. — During the past two years that Jodi King has been working in Children and Adult Ministries at Hilldale United Methodist Church, she has had on her mind and in her heart the desire to address the serious issue of bullying. Although currently a popular topic, bullying can be traced to the oldest books of the bible.





          by Kevin M. Nelson

          August 29, 2013

          Upholding the Discipline

          “Uphold the Discipline” is a phrase that we hear tossed around a lot these days.  Specifically, I hear it asked in the context of the inclusion of LGBT persons within The United Methodist Church, particularly in relation to the marriage equality movement spreading across the UMC—a movement of which I am a proud member. 


          Leaders of the Renewal movement want to know, will a bishop “uphold the Discipline” if a clergy member under their charge officiates at the wedding of a couple who are of the same sex?  In episcopal election years, like last year, it’s the episcopal candidates who are asked some version of this question in order to elicit, or not, the answer, “I will uphold the Discipline.”  If a person is a bishop, or aspires to be one, this is a question that must be answered.




          RCM: Another clergy member facing church trial

          September 1, 2013 Posted by Jay Voorhees, Executive Editor

          In a commentary on biblical obedience at The Reconciling Ministries Network blog we learn of another clergy member about to face trial for performing a same-sex wedding:

          Rev. Frank Schaefer, elder at Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, performed the wedding of his son Tim and his partner over 5 years ago. Out of love for his son and his commitment to the gospel of inclusion for LGBT persons, Schaefer made the decision to lead the ceremony in order to fulfill his calling to the ministry of all people.


          The article goes on to mention a total of four clergy that are facing complaints or charges related to homosexuality issues. Are you aware of other pending actions in your annual conferences related to what RMN calls “biblical obedience”?




          September 01, 2013

          Biblical Obedience on trial

          - by Reconciling Ministries Network -

          Rev. Frank Schaefer, elder at Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, performed the wedding of his son Tim and his partner over 5 years ago. Out of love for his son and his commitment to the gospel of inclusion for LGBT persons, Schaefer made the decision to lead the ceremony in order to fulfill his calling to the ministry of all people.




          Bishop blesses same-sex couples in their marriages

          September 4, 2013 Posted by Jay Voorhees, Executive Editor


          Chevy Chase, MD — Bishop Melvin G. Talbert, a retired bishop of the United Methodist Church and an outspoken advocate for full inclusion of GLBTQ persons in the life of the church, offered a special blessing for the union of same-sex couples present at the Sunday, September 1, 2013 evening worship service of the Reconciling Ministries Network FaithQuake Convocation. Using the Declaration of Marriage from the marriage ceremony in The United Methodist Book of Worship, Talbert pronounced that those same-sex couples present who had given themselves to one another by solemn vows and the giving and receiving of hands and rings were married in name of the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. “Those whom God has joined, ” Talbert proclaimed, “let no one put asunder.”




          It is time to do the right thing

          Retired Bishop Melvin Talbert spoke those words to more than 550 people Sept. 1, during the 2013 Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) Convocation held at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase. RMN’s mission, according to its web site, is to “mobilize United Methodists of all sexual orientations and gender identities to transform our Church and world into the full expression of Christ’s inclusive love.”



        • Affirmation: United Methodists
          [We do apologize. It’s taken a bit of time post vacation / wedding to get caught up with everything. We’re starting with The UMC because there’s been
          Message 4 of 15 , Dec 4 7:09 PM
          • Affirmation: United Methodists
            Pastor expects trial for same-sex wedding By Heather Hahn Sept. 28, 2015 (UMNS) The Rev. Michael Tupper notified his bishop Sept. 28 that he would not agree to
            Message 5 of 15 , Nov 2, 2015

              Pastor expects trial for same-sex wedding

              By Heather Hahn
              Sept. 28, 2015 (UMNS)


              The Rev. Michael Tupper notified his bishop Sept. 28 that he would not agree to a just resolution in a same-sex wedding complaint. His decision opens the way for a process that could culminate in a church trial.

              The West Michigan Conference pastor said he would plead guilty at a church trial and he would not contest any penalty determined by a jury of his clergy peers. In a notarized letter, he also said he would not use an attorney and would waive his right to an appeal.





              A Pastoral Letter to the Good People of the Michigan Area

              Dear Friends,

              Since the 2015 Annual Conference, our two conferences have experienced some great ‘highs’, and some painful ‘lows’. We celebrated across the state and across the denomination, with the nearly 90% affirmative vote, on becoming one conference, something desired for over twenty years. I celebrate that still!




              Same-sex wedding complaint moves forward

              By Heather Hahn
              Oct. 19, 2015 (UMNS)


              A complaint against the Rev. Michael Tupper for helping to officiate at a same-sex wedding is moving forward in a process the pastor hopes will culminate in a church trial.


              After an impasse in attempts to reach a resolution, Michigan Area Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey announced that she had referred the complaint to a counsel for the church. A clergy member appointed by the bishop, the counsel is responsible for compiling relevant materials in the case and acting as a sort of church prosecutor.





              A more just structure


              The structure of the global United Methodist Church was set over 40 years ago. The 1960s-70s were not exactly known for Americans being equitable to foreign countries, and our UMC reflects that in many ways. Two examples off the top of my head:

              1. For decades, the Ivory Coast was denied full representation in the global church, and it took a Judicial Council ruling to give them full representation at General Conference.
              2. The Central Conferences can edit the Book of Discipline for their context, but the United States cannot.





              Reflections on the Argument That Wasn't

              by Paul Fleck

              October 22, 2015


              The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Or, The Oral Argument That Wasn’t


              To call it “oral argument” on Plan UMC Revised is a bit of a misnomer.  An argument suggests that there are two sides.  And there weren’t two sides to the discussion on Plan UMC Revised before the Judicial Council on Wednesday.  The Bishops were, at best, neutral as to the Plan that they had referred for Constitutional review.  And though Bishop Palmer said he appreciated the robust debate occasioned by referral to the Judicial Council, he certainly didn’t cede any of his oral argument time to the opponents to insure true debate took place.  The folks who had drafted Plan UMC Revised, characterized as the “Respondents” were, of course, in favor of it.  The Opponents, like me, were summarily shut out of the “oral argument.”





              Response to the Covenantal Unity Plan

              by Chris Ritter

              October 22, 2015


              Six legislative proposals form the basis of the “Covenantal Unity Plan” (the CUPlan) that was released yesterday.  Endorsed by names such as Dr. Bill Arnold, Dr. Billy Abraham, and Dr. David Watson, the plan aims at restoring order and providing meaningful unity in The United Methodist Church.  I have great respect for the drafters and endorsers.  I assume Arnold and Watson are the source of the plan as it is very similar to what was formerly introduced as their A&W Plan.  Good News reports that ideas by Arnold/Watson were enhanced by work by Dr. Jeff Greenway and Dr. Greg Stover.  Some of the sharpest orthodox minds in the UMC are supporting this “better way forward”.





              Same-sex Wedding Complaint Moves Forward

              by Heather Hahn

              October 22, 2015


              A complaint against the Rev. Michael Tupper for helping to officiate at a same-sex wedding is moving forward in a process the pastor hopes will culminate in a church trial.


              After an impasse in attempts to reach a resolution, Michigan Area Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey announced Oct. 19 that she had referred the complaint to a counsel for the church. A clergy member appointed by the bishop, the counsel is responsible for compiling relevant materials in the case and acting as a sort of church prosecutor.





              Court defers review of ‘Plan UMC Revised’

              By Linda Bloom
              Oct. 26, 2015 | ST. LOUIS (UMNS)


              A ruling on the constitutionality of legislation for a proposed organizational plan for The United Methodist Church has been deferred until May.


              To make a declaratory decision about one specific piece of proposed legislation, the United Methodist Judicial Council said in Decision 1303, “could intrude” on the full legislative authority of General Conference. The denomination’s top decision-making body meets May 10-20 in Portland, Oregon.





              What the Deferral of Plan UMC Means for the UMC

              by Jeremy Smith

              October 29, 2015


              Short Version

              The short version of the ruling is that the Judicial Council did not rule on the legality of PlanUMC, a massive reorganization plan of the UMC that centralizes control over budgets and personnel in new layer of hierarchy. They did not make a ruling out of concern that their ruling would give preferential treatment to one proposal when there might be more proposals out there that merit the same scrutiny. Instead, they will offer a ruling right before General Conference in May 2016.



            • Affirmation: United Methodists
              African Bishops and the Leadership We Need in the #UMC The letter from the African Bishops on terrorism, unity, and human sexuality shows the value of regional
              Message 6 of 15 , Nov 21, 2015

                African Bishops and the Leadership We Need in the #UMC

                The letter from the African Bishops on terrorism, unity, and human sexuality shows the value of regional diversity and the need for more authority given to those who are on the front lines of global concerns.




                Behind the Buzzword: 'Historic Christian Teaching'

                The phrase “historic Christian teaching” has become enough of a buzzword that most people just roll right over it, but there’s also an intent behind it that is important to draw out for people concerned about LGBT persons and women’s ordination.




                Treating Our Amnesia

                A recent survey indicates United Methodists suffer from schizophrenia. Some 60 percent accept same-gender attraction as a legitimate form of human sexual expression and 32 percent believe that homosexual attraction should be discouraged. Forty-nine percent favor same-sex marriages while 43 percent oppose them. Forty-five percent identify themselves as conservative, but 58 percent say they support legal abortion in all or most cases, while 38 percent want to make abortion illegal in most instances.




                Early warning proposed for General Conference legislation

                Some United Methodist leaders still talk with frustration about the last day of the 2012 General Conference.

                That was the afternoon the Judicial Council — the denomination’s top court — struck down as unconstitutional a plan to restructure the denomination’s general agencies. The plan had been years in the making. Delegates then scrambled to downsize agency boards in hopes of salvaging some part of the movement for structural change.




                Plans under way to make Discipline truly global

                What are the essentials that bind all United Methodists and what can be adapted for use outside the United States?

                That is the heart of the debate before an international body of church leaders, who met this past week in Maputo, Mozambique.

                General Conference, the denomination’s top lawmaking body, in 2012 assigned the Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters to assist in developing a truly global Book of Discipline. The hope is that such a book, which will contain the church’s teachings and rules of governance, will help the denomination live more fully into its worldwide nature.




                United Methodists achieve milestones despite differences

                Different viewpoints over societal changes have led some to speculate whether the unity of The United Methodist Church will hold when its top legislative body meets in May 2016.

                While disputes over maintaining the denomination’s official opposition to gay clergy and same-sex marriage have dominated recent General Conferences, there have been serious disagreements before on social, theological and church governance issues, points out the Rev. Alfred T. Day III, top executive of the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History.




                Could reorganizing agencies boost church vitality?

                Supporters and opponents of Plan UMC agree on this: Any reorganization of United Methodist agencies ought to help more churches become vital and strengthen the denomination’s Christian witness.

                Whether this plan can get the job done is in dispute. 




                African bishops speak out on terrorism, sexuality

                African bishops called on The United Methodist Church to confront global terrorism and hold the line on church teachings regarding human sexuality.

                “As leaders of the church, we believe that there are far more important issues that unite us than issues of sexual orientation,” the bishops said in “a statement on the state of global UMC and our common world.”




                Alternative process offered for sexuality debate

                Organizers of The United Methodist Church’s top lawmaking assembly plan to offer an alternative process for considering legislation related to the denomination’s stance on homosexuality.

                To go forward, General Conference delegates will need to approve rule changes when they meet May 10-20, 2016, in Portland, Oregon.




                South Central Jurisdiction Delegate Reports on Meeting

                The South Central Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church met this week in Oklahoma City for what we called a “Delegate Meeting.” It wasn’t the actual conference, but rather a training event designed to get us prepared for the work ahead. Here is my reflection on the event, for any who may be interested.




                Can the Center Hold? Can We Muddle Through?

                by William C. Trench

                November 5, 2015

                Adam Hamilton is the Senior Pastor of the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, the largest United Methodist Church in the world, with over 20,000 members. He founded the church twenty-five years ago when he gathered a small group and rented space in a funeral home. Adam is deeply committed to biblical Christianity, Wesleyan theology, evangelism, spiritual development, and the mission of the church in the world. He also embodies one of the most basic Methodist characteristics: pragmatism. He believes in getting things done. And he favors what will work over ideological or even doctrinal purity. Last spring Adam wrote a blog post called, “Same Sex Marriage and the Future of the UMC.” It is more pragmatic than prophetic, but it suggests a practical way forward that avoids schism. It will not please everyone. In some ways, it will not please anyone.




                Anarchy in The United Methodist Church

                by Richard Lowell Bryant

                November 5, 2015

                Jesus is not a thought; he is praxis-an action. If one reads the blogs, propaganda and plans coming forth in anticipation of the General Conference I do not see an active Jesus. The most common thoughts I encounter are the self-absorbed fantasies of a denominational zealots trying to save something that may not need to be saved. Peddling ideas, charts, and acronyms; they have solutions for every problem. These are the numerous “plans” to save our denomination.


              • Affirmation: United Methodists
                Same-sex wedding complaint moves forward Nov. 30 Update: The Rev. Michael Tupper has pitched his tent in the snow and said he plans to camp outside a church
                Message 7 of 15 , Jan 16, 2016

                  Same-sex wedding complaint moves forward

                  Nov. 30 Update: The Rev. Michael Tupper has pitched his tent in the snow and said he plans to camp outside a church official's Marquette, Michigan, office until the complaint against him moves a step closer to a church trial. Tupper wants the Rev. Elbert P. Dulworth, the Marquette District superintendent and the appointed counsel for the church in the case, to move the complaint to a committee on investigation. The Book of Discipline, the denomination’s law book, has no specific timeline for the work of a counsel, who acts as a sort of church prosecutor compiling material in the case. Dulworth’s office is housed at First United Methodist Church in Marquette. 




                  How Big Data Disrupts Narratives of UMC Decline

                  Recently the data for 2014 came out on the United Methodist Church in America, showing a 1.6% drop in membership and 2.6% drop in attendance across the board. I’m thankful to be part of an organized church tradition that gathers and publishes data so geeks like me can read it. - See more at: http://um-insight.net/perspectives/jeremy-smith/how-b/#sthash.LxcJ1OZ5.dpuf




                  Letting Go of American Christianity

                  When did it happen? Was it after a meeting? Was it in the middle of a worship service? Maybe it was the impact of reading John the Baptizer’s sermon on Isaiah. Perhaps it was all, none, or some of each. I do know this. It has finally happened. What is it? - See more at: http://um-insight.net/in-the-church/practicing-faith/letting-go-of-american-christianity/#sthash.O4DnipAx.dpuf




                  Judicial Council Rulings Examined

                  The following observations are intended to encourage you to read the Fall 2015 decisions of the Judicial Council for yourself. These blog posts are in no way church law in any form but could help you understand some important aspects of the decisions. Should you feel I have made an error of fact or interpretation, please let me know  so it can be corrected. - See more at: http://um-insight.net/in-the-church/finance-and-administration/judicial-council-rulings-examined/#sthash.L3Su81Ha.dpuf




                  How Thick Is the Stained-Glass Ceiling?

                  A woman’s place can be behind the wheel of racecars, at the front of corporate boardrooms and along the U.S. presidential campaign trail. But for many U.S. congregations, a woman still has no place in the pulpit. - See more at: http://um-insight.net/in-the-church/ordained-ministry/how-thick-is-the-stained-glass-ceiling/#sthash.aHnn3IZX.dpuf




                  Kansas pastor comes out during sermon

                  A United Methodist pastor came out to her Kansas congregation during a Jan. 3 sermon in this year’s first public action aimed at influencing the 2016 General Conference.




                  Kansas Pastor Comes Out to Her Congregation

                  Rev. Cynthia Meyer, pastor for Edgerton United Methodist Church in Edgerton, Kansas and the former Assistant Dean of Students for the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, came out to her congregation yesterday during Sunday worship service. Meyer’s announcement comes after 25 years of leadership in The United Methodist Church (The UMC) and what she refers to as “many years of distress.” The UMC currently does not allow LGBTQ clergy or same-sex marriage. - See more at: http://um-insight.net/in-the-church/ordained-ministry/kansas-pastor/#sthash.lrfDJCZJ.dpuf




                  Why did Tim Bias really leave Discipleship Ministries?

                  Personnel stories about United Methodist leaders pose some of the biggest challenges to church-related news outlets because of the denomination's rule that allows secrecy regarding employment matters. The recent announcement of the Rev. Dr. Timothy Bias' departure as top executive of Discipleship Ministries provides the most recent case of how, in some cases, the denomination's rules protect the political status quo more than anything else.




                  A Violation of Integrity: Coming Out as a Lesbian Clergyperson?

                  She’s been living a lie and I’m deeply troubled about this even as others are cheering her on.

                  I write of the Rev. Cynthia Meyer, a longtime United Methodist pastor, and her announcement to her church on Sunday, January 3, 2016.




                  Thoughtful Pastor: Hate the sin of homosexuality or assume truth?

                  Dear Thoughtful Pastor: How can conservative Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin support and show respect to their gay family members, co-workers and friends in ways that will not compromise their personal faith? The adage “love the sinner, hate the sin” is blatantly offensive to those who do not believe that homosexuality is sinful. Is there a more nuanced way to look at this issue?




                  Primer on Structural Proposals for #UMC General Conference 2016


                • Affirmation: United Methodists
                  Lesbian pastor moves closer to church trial By Kathy L. Gilbert and Heather Hahn April 5, 2016 | (UMNS)
                  Message 8 of 15 , May 12, 2016

                    Lesbian pastor moves closer to church trial

                    By Kathy L. Gilbert and Heather Hahn
                    April 5, 2016 | (UMNS)



                    Bishop again officiates at same-gender nuptials

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                    Editor's note: Updated with complaint filed against Rev. Rosenquist
                    By Heather Hahn

                    April 24, 2016 | UMNS



                    Should the United Methodist Church Be More Like McDonald's?

                    by Morgan Guyton

                    April 28, 2016

                    - See more at: http://um-insight.net/in-the-world/advocating-justice/should-the-united-methodist-church-be-more-like-mcdonald-s/#sthash.MeReskj5.dpuf



                    Now Even 'Jesus Loves Me' Has Been Weaponized

                    by Morgan Guyton

                    May 5, 2016

                    - See more at: http://um-insight.net/in-the-world/advocating-justice/now-even/#sthash.lGHMJD82.dpuf



                    Reconciling Movement Spurs Evangelism and Discipleship in Minnesota

                    by Dave Nuckols

                    May 5, 2016

                    - See more at: http://um-insight.net/in-the-church/local-church/reconciling-movement-spurs-evangelism-and-discipleship-in-mi/#sthash.DjpD8cGX.dpuf



                    Pacific Northwest board joins in removing LGBTQ bar

                    UPDATES with PNW board action
                    By Kathy L. Gilbert

                    May 9, 2016 PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS)



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